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NEWS -- 2013.09.18.Wednesday night

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  • James Martin
    Wednesday 18 September 2013 Wed 18/09/2013 1) Commentary: Obamacare Fight Shows GOP s Contempt for Non-Rich People 2) from the FRC -- GOP Ready to Confront
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 18, 2013
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      Wednesday 18 September 2013
      Wed 18/09/2013
       
      1) Commentary: 'Obamacare Fight' Shows GOP’s Contempt for Non-Rich People
      2) from the FRC -- GOP Ready to Confront the Passed
      3) The Origins of Our Police State
      4) Marianne Theresa Johnson-Reddick Obituary Paints Ugly Picture Of Deceased Mother Of 8
      5) The Secret History of America's Nuclear Arsenal
       
       
      1)

      Commentary: 'Obamacare Fight' Shows GOP’s Contempt for Non-Rich People

      Jared Spurbeck Wednesday 18 September 2013
       
      As Barack Obama and some GOP lawmakers argue over the debt ceiling and the Affordable Care Act, Yahoo asked Americans how the battle in Washington is affecting them. Here's one perspective.

      COMMENTARY | Let's get a few things straight.

      First, House Republicans are not going to stop Obamacare, also known as the Affordable Care Act. (This website explains what it actually does.) They're not going to prevent freeloaders from having to buy health insurance (to help pay for care for people with actual medical conditions, which the ACA also requires insurance companies to stop coming up with excuses not to cover them), and they're not going to prevent the Medicaid expansion, which will let poor families and workers get chronic and life-threatening medical conditions taken care of. Their leadership has very publicly refused to commit to a course of action, and it's kind of ridiculous to talk about "defunding Obamacare" in the first place.

      Second, it's even more ridiculous to talk about generally defunding the government (via refusing to raise the debt ceiling or continuing "sequestration") versus letting Americans have some semblance of the health care coverage people in practically every other first-world country have already. That's because those aren't the only two options on the table. We can choose what we want our society to look like, and it doesn't have to be a "winner-take-all, the rest of you fight for the scraps" universe.

      I currently depend on government-funded health care for life-saving medical interventions, through hard-to-find and hard-to-sign-up-for programs that I didn't even know existed and that put a hard limit on how often I can see a health care professional. I wanted to go on Medicaid in 2014, but the Republicans in my state of North Carolina rejected federal funding of the ACA Medicaid expansion, over the protest of the state's doctors and even though it'd cost them nothing.

      I'm scared that my life will be thrown away.

      Right now, we have widespread unemployment and poverty because no one's spending enough to justify hiring more workers. Poor and middle-class Americans can't spend the money, and people with unearned wealth simply aren't.

      We, as a society, go to a lot of trouble to make life easier for rich people. We build the roads, bridges, and public schools that make the United States a better and safer place to do business than Somalia, and even though they get most of the benefits, we don't even make them pay their fair share of the cost. Instead, we let them deduct practically everything from their taxes, avoid paying corporate income tax, and rewrite the tax laws every year with the help of their full-time accountants.

      "Sequestration" is basically rich people saying -- via the House Republicans -- "screw you all, my $300,000 wristwatch is more important than your child's health care." Or her preschool program, or her breakfast, or her teacher's salary. Why do we think this is OK? Do we really have to let people curl up and die -- 502 of them every week in 2010 -- to make sure rich people get to keep all the unearned wealth that we worked so hard to give them?

      Why are we even talking about this in the 21st century?

      Jared Spurbeck lives in Cary, N.C.

       
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      2)
      from the Family Research Council (FRC) -- political front of Southern Baptists
       

      September 18, 2013 - Wednesday

      GOP Ready to Confront the Passed

      The House wasn't planning to be in session next week, but after today's announcement, it's a good thing they've changed their minds. Members will need all the time they can get to launch the most aggressive strike against ObamaCare yet. To the cheers of conservative activists everywhere, Republican members of the House emerged from a closed-door meeting this morning with the news everyone was waiting for: the GOP is ready to fight.

      After weighing dozens of options, House leaders are going "all in" on the push to defund the worst mistake of Obama's presidency. "It's time," said Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), "to protect American families from this unworkable law." For now, "protecting America" means backing Rep. Tom Graves's (R-Ga.) plan, which would hitch the vote to defund ObamaCare to the continuing resolution (or CR, the short-term budget bill).

      Before the government's cash officially runs out at midnight on September 30, conservatives are offering to raise the debt ceiling for a year and keep Washington running with a $988 billion budget extension. In exchange, they want to put ObamaCare on ice until 2015. But here's the best part. If Senator Harry Reid (D-Nev.) doesn't take the deal, his party will be forced to shut down the government -- to protect a law that a majority of Americans don't even want! Unlike other proposals, Tom Graves's measure would not only solve the problem of abortion funding in health care, but put a cease-fire on conscience violations.

      Obviously, it's a politically risky strategy for both parties. Even if Senators Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) are ready to take on the Senate, there's still the very real possibility that the President won't take the dare. At this point, though, even the temporary reward outweighs the "what ifs."

      As outraged as Americans are over ObamaCare, their frustration with the GOP's handling of the situation is a close second. For some of them, this debate is eerily similar to the "cut, cap, and balance" debate -- when House leadership voted to slash spending, only to throw up its arms when the real negotiating with the Senate began. Conservatives applaud the GOP's decision and expect them to stand their ground against this unprecedented attack on faith, family, and freedom -- regardless of what Harry Reid does.

      If it does come to a government shutdown, 51% of voters will back them up. According to Rasmussen, a majority of Americans would support cutting off Washington if it means putting off ObamaCare. Eighty percent of GOP voters agree with us: it's more important for their party to stand for what it believes in rather than cower to the President's liberal demands. And while 79% of Democrats think a shutdown would be bad for the economy, it won't be nearly as bad as ObamaCare is proving to be.

      "Every member in this room is for defunding ObamaCare while letting the rest of the government continue to operate," said Speaker Boehner. "We're going to put ObamaCare defunding directly into the CR. And then we're going to send it over to the Senate, so our conservative allies over there can contribute to the fight. That's where the fight is." For now,America's fate is tied to the bill by Tom Graves. Voters put Republicans in power, now let's see them use it.

      Deep in the Heart of Taxes...

      If you want to engage in free speech, prepare to be taxed! That's the message from the IRS, where new documents are showing just how deep the roots of ideological corruption go. In the most powerful display of political profiling yet, USA Today leaked new paperwork proving that IRS was not only targeting conservative groups, but any groups that participated in "emotional" or "anti-Obama rhetoric." A whopping 162 groups were flagged by IRS agents for extra scrutiny on their tax exempt applications -- only 11 of them liberal.

      The scandal, which grabbed plenty of headlines when it first broke, fell off the radar during the Syria crisis. Unfortunately for the Obama administration, these new revelations are putting the agency where it belongs: on the hot seat. Rep. Charles Boustany (R-La.) made sure of that today in a Ways and Means Committee hearing with acting IRS Director Daniel Werfel. "Four months after the IRS admitted to targeting applicants for tax-exempt status, there are still many outstanding questions about when the targeting started, who knew about it, and why it was allowed to continue." Boutany's goal -- like ours -- is to ensure this abuse never happens again.

      No one can be sure of that now, in an administration that uses the IRS as a hired thug to punish and silence conservatives. Ed Morrissey at HotAir.com is just one of the voices demanding accountability. "When the IRS starts targeting political dissent for scrutiny, they have stopped being a revenue collector and have become instead a political enforcer. That's dangerous for all Americans." If the IRS is going to wage a secret war against conservatives, then it's time for the House to wage an open one against corruption.

      Lackland's Lackluster Record on Rights

      It may be the Air Force's 66th birthday, but for some airmen, the mood is anything but festive. At Lackland Air Force base, dozens of men and women are facing a painful choice: take their faith underground or give up a lifetime of service. Pastor Steve Branson, whose church is in the shadow of the Texas base, says his congregation is literally ground zero in the fight for religious liberty in the military. Senior Master Sergeant Phillip Monk, who felt convicted to take a stand for religious freedom after a sermon by Pastor Branson, is just one of dozens of under threat. On the radio show yesterday, Pastor Branson said he was stunned by the number of airmen who took him aside and asked for prayer. And it's not just enlisted men struggling with this climate of intimidation -- it's colonels and generals too.

      Thanks to Sgt. Monk, people at Branson's Village Parkway Church are starting to tell their stories. At an informal meeting at the church, Pastor Branson said 80 airmen got together to share their concerns and find encouragement in numbers. "[T]hey concurred with what Sgt. Monk was saying, that there are a lot of difficulties at Lackland -- that it's making life very miserable for them and for the cohesiveness of the Air Force at the base here in San Antonio... I've got several training instructors in the church, and they're getting Mirandas twice a month on average is what they are telling me. They're getting to the point where their getting afraid to do anything... I've got guys in my church that have been serving a long time, that love the military. They're the perfect kind of people you want in the military, and they are looking at how are they going to get out. I'm getting emails from everywhere."

      When I asked Pastor Branson if he was surprised by the outpouring, he said he had no idea there was this much turmoil over faith in Air Force. "It's time for people in America to wake up," he warned. "Things are happing and if we're not careful, we'll wake up one day and have lost a lot of things we have treasured for many years." (To hear the whole interview, click here.)

      Unfortunately, our military doesn't have a lot of safe places to turn. That's why this issue is so important. These brave men and women who are willing to lay down their lives to protect our freedoms are having their freedoms taken away. It's time for us to stand and speak out for them. If "one man with courage is a majority," then imagine what the entire church could do!

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      My comment ---
      Nobody knows how to lie and bear false witness like a Southern Baptist, or an SB clone.
       
      The FRC reminds me of August 28, 1955 -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emmett_Till --
       
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      3)

      The Origins of Our Police State

      Monday 16 September 2013, 09:10 By Chris Hedges, TruthDig | Report
       

      Elizabeth, New Jersey - JaQuan LaPierre, 22, was riding a bicycle down a sidewalk Sept. 5 when he noticed a squad car pulling up beside him. It was 8:30 on a hot Thursday night at the intersection of Bond Street and Jackson Avenue here in Elizabeth, N.J. LaPierre had 10 glass vials of crack cocaine—probably what the cops were hoping to find—and he hastily swallowed them. He halted and faced the two officers who emerged from the cruiser.

      “We are tired of you niggers,” he remembers one of the officers saying. “We’re tired of all this shooting and robberies and violence. And we are going to make you an example.”

      He was thrown spread-eagle onto the patrol car.

      “What I bein’ arrested for?” LaPierre asked.

      A small crowd gathered.

      “Why you harassin’ him?” someone asked the cops. “He ain’t resisting. Why you doin’ this?”

      One of the officers went though LaPierre’s pockets and took his keys and $246 in cash. LaPierre kept asking why he was being arrested. He was pepper-sprayed in the face. One officer threw him onto the street, and, while he was handcuffed, the two cops kicked and beat him.

      “What you beatin’ my nephew for?” his uncle, Antoine, said to the cops.

      More police arrived. They pushed back onlookers, including the uncle. LaPierre was gagging and choking. He was dragged across the asphalt. By the time the beating was over, blood was coming out of his mouth. He was unconscious. The assault was caught on a camera, even though when the police saw they were being recorded they pointed a flashlight beam into the lens.“It was so hot on my face,” LaPierre said of the pepper spray when we met a few days ago. “I was gasping for air.”

      The only visible crimes LaPierre had committed was riding a bicycle on a sidewalk and failing to wear a safety helmet.

      Police abuse is routine in Elizabeth, as it is in poor urban areas across the country. This incident did not make news. But it illustrated that if you are a poor person of color in the United States you know what most us are about to find out—we have no civil liberties left. Police, who arrest some 13 million people a year, 1.6 million on drug charges—half of those for marijuana counts—carry out random searches and sweeps with no probable cause. They take DNA samples from many of those they arrest, even some eventually found to be innocent, to build a nationwide database. They confiscate cash, cars, homes and other possessions based on allegations of illegal drug activity and direct the proceeds into police budgets. And in the last three decades the United States has constructed the world’s largest prison system, populated with 2.2 million inmates.

      As in most police states, cops serve as judge and jury on city streets—“a long step down the totalitarian path,” in the words that U.S. Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas wrote in 1968 when he decried expanding police powers. And police departments are bolstered by an internal surveillance and security apparatus that has eradicated privacy and dwarfed the intrusion into personal lives by police states of the past, including East Germany.

      Under a series of Supreme Court rulings we have lost the rights to protect ourselves from random searches, home invasions, warrantless wiretapping and eavesdropping and physical abuse. Police units in poor neighborhoods function as armed gangs. The pressure to meet departmental arrest quotas—the prerequisite for lavish federal aid in the “war on drugs”—results in police routinely seizing people at will and charging them with a laundry list of crimes, often without just cause. Because many of these crimes carry long mandatory sentences it is easy to intimidate defendants into “pleading out” on lesser offenses. The police and the defendants know that the collapsed court system, in which the poor get only a few minutes with a public attorney, means there is little chance the abused can challenge the system. And there is also a large pool of willing informants who, to reduce their own sentences, will tell a court anything demanded of them by the police.

      The tyranny of law enforcement in poor communities is a window into our emerging police state. These thuggish tactics are now being used against activists and dissidents. And as the nation unravels, as social unrest spreads, the naked face of police repression will become commonplace. Totalitarian systems always seek license to engage in this kind of behavior by first targeting a demonized minority. Such systems demand that the police, to combat the “lawlessness” of the demonized minority, be, in essence, emancipated from the constraints of the law. The unrestricted and arbitrary subjugation of one despised group, stripped of equality before the law, conditions the police to employ these tactics against the wider society. “Laws that are not equal for all revert to rights and privileges, something contradictory to the very nature of nation-states,” Hannah Arendt wrote in “The Origins of Totalitarianism.” “The clearer the proof of their inability to treat stateless people as legal persons and the greater the extension of arbitrary rule by police decree, the more difficult it is for states to resist the temptation to deprive all citizens of legal status and rule them with an omnipotent police.”

      Once you are branded a felon, as Michelle Alexander points out in her book“The New Jim Crow,” you are “barred from public housing by law, discriminated against by private landlords, ineligible for food stamps, forced to ‘check the box’ indicating a felony conviction on employment applications for nearly every job, and denied licenses for a wide range of professions.” And this is for people who might have had only a small quantity of drugs, perhaps a few ounces of marijuana. There are 6 million people who because of felony convictions are permanently shut out from mainstream society. They are second-class citizens, outcasts. The war on drugs—aided by hundreds of millions of federal dollars along with federal donations of high-velocity weapons, helicopters, command vehicles and SWAT team military training—has become the template for future social control. Poor people of color know the truth. They were the first victims. The rest of us are about to find it out. 

      LaPierre was taken unconscious to a hospital. He woke up with both hands handcuffed to a gurney. He was vomiting blood. Two of the glass vials, each worth $10 on the street, came up with his vomit. The police, ecstatic, had the drugs they had hoped to find when they stopped him.

      “It’s over for you,” he heard an officer say. “You’re goin’ down.”

      “You spittin’ at an officer?” one of the cops said laughingly. “Your boys are not here to protect you now, are they?”

      LaPierre could not see. He heard the officers discussing the charges and making sure the official story was coherent. One officer, inexplicably, yanked out some of LaPierre’s hair, braided in cornrows, and stuffed the hair into the handcuffed man’s pants “on my private parts.”

      “Trying to disarm an officer,” he heard one say as they tallied the charges. “Possession. Resisting arrest. Starting a riot.” By the time he was transferred out of the hospital five days later there would be nine charges and a $35,000 bail.

      “During the last couple of days the police have been telling people in the neighborhood that if they go to court to testify about the beating of JaQuan they will be arrested and go to jail too,” Myrtice Bell, LaPierre’s grandmother, told me.

      LaPierre, who was on probation for allegedly resisting arrest during another routine stop, a charge he says was false, and who has a pending charge of being in a vehicle with other men in which an illegal weapon was found by police, appears destined to be swallowed into the vast prison system. He will become, if he is railroaded into prison, one more person among the more than 2 million behind bars in the U.S. His experience, and the experience of others in poverty-stricken communities, should terrify us. Our failure to defend the rights of the poor in the name of law and order, our demonization of young black men, our acceptance that they can be stripped of the power to protect themselves from police abuse or find equality before the law, mean that their fate will soon become ours.

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      My comment ---
      For profit, private prisons should be closed immediately.  For profit, private prisons serve the some purpose as "deregulation". The public loses every time.  The capitalist pigs win big time.
       
      The pigs want their prisons full.  That's the only way they get paid.
       
      Sick.  Real sick.
       
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      Lots of comments at the URL.
       
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      Excellent, honest obituary ---
       
      4)

      Marianne Theresa Johnson-Reddick Obituary Paints Ugly Picture Of Deceased Mother Of 8

      Posted: 09/11/2013 11:47 am EDT  |  Updated: 09/15/2013 4:55 am EDT

      The offspring of a woman who died last month penned a harsh obituary for their late mother, who, the obituary said, spent her life subjecting them to horrible abuse.

      Marianne Theresa Johnson-Reddick's obituary, which has since been removed, originally appeared in the print and online edition of Nevada's Reno Gazette-Journal on Tuesday:

      Marianne Theresa Johnson-Reddick born Jan 4, 1935 and died alone on Aug. 30, 2013. She is survived by her 6 of 8 children whom she spent her lifetime torturing in every way possible. While she neglected and abused her small children, she refused to allow anyone else to care or show compassion towards them. When they became adults she stalked and tortured anyone they dared to love. Everyone she met, adult or child was tortured by her cruelty and exposure to violence, criminal activity, vulgarity, and hatred of the gentle or kind human spirit.

      On behalf of her children whom she so abrasively exposed to her evil and violent life, we celebrate her death from this earth and hope she lives in the after-life reliving each gesture of violence, cruelty, and shame that she delivered on her children. Her surviving children will now live the rest of their lives with the peace of knowing their nightmare finally has some form of closure.

      Most of us have found peace in helping those who have been exposed to child abuse and hope this message of her death can revive our message that abusing children is unforgivable, shameless, and should not be tolerated in a "humane society". Our greatest wish now, is to stimulate a national movement that mandates a purposeful and dedicated war against child abuse in the United States of America.

      Gazette publisher John Maher told KRNV the obituary was submitted through a "self-service online submission." He also said the online version has been removed while the paper looks into how it got on the site and in the paper.

      The print version of the obituary stated that Johnson-Reddick died on Sept. 30. KRNV reports that her actual date of death was Aug. 30.

      Gawker speculates that Marianne Reddick may have testified before the Nevada Equal Rights Commission in 1970. A woman by the same name told the commission that the employment agency wrote "white only" on some job postings so that African-Americans would know they had no chance at filling those positions, according to Gawker.

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      Jesus satire
       
       
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      5)

      The Secret History of America's Nuclear Arsenal

      By Ryan Devereaux, Rolling Stone

      17 September 2013

      In a new book, the 'Fast Food Nation' author investigates the many near-misses that could have caused catastrophes

      It was a one-in-a-million bounce: A socket slipped from a wrench and fell about 70 feet before piercing the fuel tank of the most powerful missile in the United States' nuclear arsenal. What followed was a race to prevent an explosion that could have incinerated the state of Arkansas.

      In his new book, Command and Control, award-winning investigative journalist and longtime Rolling Stone contributor Eric Schlosser reveals how this disaster was narrowly avoided at a Damascus, Arkansas missile silo in 1980 – and shows that it was just one incident in an ongoing pattern of near-misses and bureaucratic blunders that have brought America to the nuclear brink again and again. Drawing on six years of research, Schlosser challenges and expands on the U.S. government's secretive record regarding nuclear accidents.

      The best-selling author of 2001's Fast Food Nation – which began as an exposé published in RS – likens his new book to a foot soldier's history of World War II, relying on the firsthand accounts of U.S. service members. His interview subjects, many of whom served at the height of the Cold War, have been called on time and again to prevent nuclear devastation, often at tremendous personal risk.

      Command and Control hits bookstores tomorrow. Schlosser called RS to explain the results of his latest eye-opening research, and make the case for nuclear disarmament. "I'm not apocalyptic," he says. "But I think we have to confront this issue."

      Let's get the big question out of the way: How many times have we just barely avoided nuclear armageddon in the U.S.?

      That's a good question. It's a very secretive subject, and I did my best, through interviews and through the Freedom of Information Act, to get as much information as I could on these accidents. The Pentagon lists 32 broken arrows, which are their official nuclear weapon accidents that they consider really serious – but if you look carefully at that list, quite a few of those accidents posed no threat of an accidental detonation on American soil, and I found a lot of other accidents that did.

      So the answer is more than once, and far too many for us to be comfortable. The accident that I wrote about at length could have destroyed the state of Arkansas while Bill Clinton was governor. I write about another accident that occurred not long after John F. Kennedy's inauguration that could have deposited lethal fallout as far north as New York City. These are very complicated machines, and they're the most dangerous machines ever invented. I think every nation that has nuclear weapons has to really understand the risk, not only that they pose to your enemy, but to yourself.

      You've written about a wide range of topics, from the fast-food industry to marijuana prohibition to immigrant workers. What prompted you to investigate nuclear weapons?

      I was in Colorado Springs, spending time with members of the Air Force Space Command, and they started telling me stories of nuclear weapons. And I heard the story of the Damascus [Arkansas] accident, and I thought it was just an unbelievable story. I'd never heard about it. I couldn't believe that it happened, and I was determined to write about it someday. And the more I investigated, the more I realized this accident wasn't the only one. For many years, there were safety flaws with our nuclear weapons which weren't being addressed and which were being covered up. We're just very, very, very, very, very fortunate that a major city has not been destroyed by a nuclear weapon since Nagasaki. But there's no guarantee that that luck will last.

      Why did you focus the book on the experience of these nuclear foot soldiers?

      Well, you know, there's no shortage of Cold War memoirs by former secretaries of state or former national security advisers or presidents talking about dealings with the Russians. But very little has been written about the ordinary servicemen and women who often took great risks. I tell the story of a guy whose job it was to walk over to a nuclear weapon damaged in an accident and dismantle it – basically a bomb squad guy trained to handle nuclear weapons. Now, that takes a lot of nerve to do, and people like that put themselves at risk in order to prevent catastrophes. I think their stories are really worth telling.

      It was important to me to show, not just the bureaucratic incompetence in many cases, but also the incredible heroism of these ordinary servicemen. So it's not a simplistic, black-and-white anti-military thing at all. There's a Vietnam War memorial, but there really isn't any memorial to the people who served in the Cold War – and many of them lost their lives, even though it wasn't a declared war.

      What was your research process like?

      Unlike the government, I've done everything I can to make the work transparent on this subject. So there's a massive, massive bibliography and source notes – which were a total drag to do, but which were a way of letting readers know where I got the information. Someone who reads one of my books, if they don't want to read any of the source notes, that's fine. But it's sort of a map to the book. And very, very little of the book is based on unnamed sources or anonymous sources. It's all very documented, and I think it was important to do that because the government has been so incredibly secretive on this subject, and there's been a great deal of disinformation and misinformation about it.

      What were your most startling discoveries?

      The most startling discoveries were how close we came to having a nuclear detonation on American soil. The other thing is how the most trivial, mundane little mistake could have potentially catastrophic consequences. In the Damascus accident, someone is using a socket wrench and the socket comes off the wrench. The idea that a socket could lead to a nuclear detonation is unbelievable – but there are other accidents in which somebody used a screwdriver instead of a fuse-puller and blasted a warhead off of a different intercontinental ballistic missile of ours.

      There was another case in which a navigator for a long flight decided to bring some rubber seat cushions onto a B5-2 bomber, and he put the cushions underneath his seat too close to a heat vent. The cushions caught on fire; the bomber wound up crashing with all of its nuclear weapons and almost hit one of our most important military bases. The notion that a nuclear detonation that could destroy one of our most top-secret bases could be caused by some rubber cushions catching on fire is just crazy.

      In the last decade, conversations about national security have been dominated by the threat of terrorism, and we don't hear as much about the dangers of nuclear weapons specifically. What do you make of that shift?

      There's an enormous amnesia on the part of the American people about nuclear weapons. About half of the American population wasn't born yet or were small children when the Berlin Wall came down and the Soviet Union vanished. One of the reasons I wrote the book was just to remind people that these weapons are out there and how easily they can go wrong.

      I am hugely concerned – and people who have more expertise than I do in this area are hugely concerned – about the possibility of terrorists getting ahold of a nuclear weapon, or the possibility of a nuclear weapons accident by one of the nuclear weapons powers. I'm critical of the management of our nuclear weapons, but we invented this technology. I think we probably build the safest weapons on Earth. And yet, when you think of countries like Pakistan and India and North Korea having nuclear weapons, a useful guide would be to look at the rate of industrial accidents in those countries, which is much higher than here, and their ability to manage this incredible, complex technology is really worrisome. People can disagree on what the best policy should be for the United States, but I think everyone should know what the options are and what the real risk is.

      How secure are the nuclear weapons that exist today, both in the U.S. and abroad?

      The Air Force has had some real problems with the management of its nuclear weapons in the last few years. The worst incident I wrote about in the book was in 2007. They lost half a dozen of their powerful nuclear weapons for a day and a half. They had been loaded on a plane inadvertently and nobody bothered [to notice] – there was no paperwork required when they were moved from the bunker. It was incredible that that could occur. Since then, again and again, Air Force units that handle nuclear weapons have been decertified or have been punished for safety lapses.

      A few years ago, an entire squadron of our Minuteman missiles went offline, and the missile crews couldn't communicate with our own missiles. The Air Force denied there was any possibility that someone had hacked into our system, but later admitted that they're very concerned about the threat of somebody hacking into our nuclear command and control system. That's like the plot of a bad movie – but if an insider like [whistleblower Edward] Snowden can obtain that sort of information about the NSA, which is some of the most top secret secrets that we have, it's concerning when you have intercontinental ballistic missiles controlled by software.

      The biggest concern right now, by far, is Pakistan. One of the things that just came out through some of Snowden's revelations is how little we know about how Pakistan is managing its nuclear arsenal. They're rapidly building all kinds of nuclear weapons. If you have 150 weapons and you only lose one of them, you're still taking care of more than 99 percent of them perfectly – but you can't afford to lose one. Again, one weapon equals one city.

      Do you believe there's a place for nuclear weapons in a national defense arsenal, or is the inherent threat they pose too great?

      I agree with our president. I think these weapons should be abolished, in the same way I think that biological and chemical weapons should be abolished. Those NBC weapons – nuclear, biological and chemical –weapons, are considered the weapons of mass destruction. I think that it's not going to happen overnight, but people need to be aware of the risk and then I think that over time they can be negotiated out of existence.

      If I thought that we were all doomed and it was hopeless to do anything about this, I would not have bothered spending six years researching and writing about nuclear weapons. But I think that we don't have to lose a city to a nuclear weapon – and neither does any other country. People need to be aware, and the world needs to act to eliminate these weapons.

      So you believe a day might come when nuclear weapons are gone?

      I do. Again, I don't think it's going to happen overnight, but the first step would be for the major nuclear powers to meet and begin greatly reducing the sizes of their arsenals. The fewer weapons there are, the less likely there is to be a catastrophic accident. I mean, that's just the law of probability. Realistically, you have an alternative: You can abolish nuclear weapons or you can accept that one day they're going to be used. It's just almost unimaginable what that would mean.

       
       
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